I wrote a page I called The Preamble to all Posts the other day. In writing it, I found that I had left out something really important; how is it that I came to call this blog Firehouse Zen. So I added some paragraphs to that page to better explain things.
First off, the title "Firehouse Zen" came from, believe it or not, my nephew, Zack Powers. He had a similarly named blog that I guess insinuated itself in my subconscious (Lowbrow Zen). In fact, when I realized I had inadvertently copied his blog name, I was mortified, and to this day am still embarrassed about it when I think about it. I told him then about my mistake but he said he was okay with it, so I continued on. But the whole reason I even thought about the "Zen" part to begin with (after he essentially "suggested" it) was that when I was coming up with a name for my site, I was seeking something to reflect my appreciation for a lot of the Taoist literature I had been reading, since it lent to my understanding of a "middle way" to leading.
As I say on that page:
I believe in transformational leadership, but I am pragmatic and realize you can't just get there in one giant leap. I believe that strong, value based leadership is imperative to the survival of organizations, nations, communities, and incidents. I believe there is something you can take away from every experience, good or bad, and use it to grow. I am in favor of change, not for the sake of change, but when change paves a path to doing things better, safer, or more productively.
My reading of classic eastern texts like the Tao Te Ching and Sun Tzu's Art of War (this link is to my favorite version of it), Paul Carus' The Gospel of Buddha, Muller's interpretation of The Dhammapada, and other works led me to a curiosity of how human behavior can be better influenced using different philosophies than the standard western doctrines. After all, many of these cultures have been around long before our traditional cultures and have endured many changes, so there must be some validity to their beliefs and values.
As an amateur sociologist (amateur in that I have no credentials in sociology), but experienced in the leading and development of high-functioning teams, I want to know and expose best practices for those who are in the path of growing into leadership and change management. As a manager, I feel that there are way too many horror stories associated with bad leadership and I desire to eliminate that way of thinking, if possible, from my own working environment. And as a fellow human being, I want nothing more than to be able to live out my life in a peaceful existence with an end to needless suffering for others.
The result of much of this reading and meditating on how best to lead people has guided me to a different understanding of my world. While I still consider myself a Catholic, I practice my own form of zazen, I believe that there are no absolutes, and while it may expose me as some sort of a heretic, I find that the way we practice our faith should be based more on our observation of the world around us and understanding that what we reap is what we sow. You know, that karma thing? In almost every religion, you will find that if you let go of lust and desire and envy, set aside ego, and consider the interactions you have with others, you will maintain the path that guides you to the right way to live.
I appreciate the readers I have brought along the way so far and I invite you to share my humble ramblings with those in whom these ideas might plant a seed. The ideas I forward to you might not resound with everyone and I know of those in whom they completely disagree with my take on things. However, in my own observation, while you may not agree with me, I gain perspective in what you have to say and we can share ideas that can benefit all we encounter. So if we can do this respectfully and in a spirit of understanding, we can influence many others and hopefully change our world.